Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Marble Bundt Cake

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and enjoyed their time with family and friends. I'm sure this week is full of plans for New Year's Eve. After revving up my sweet tooth on Christmas day with the multiple desserts served at my family's luncheon, I decided to make a dessert for this week: a marble bundt cake.

Ok, I know I said I would be doing espresso gingerbread cookies this week. Turns out, I can't find espresso powder around here. So I ordered some and am waiting on it to make its way to my house. In the meantime, I made a marble bundt cake.

Doesn't this look delicious! It should because it is. The chocolate is just right - it doesn't overpower the rest of the cake. But it allows you to get that chocolate hit that all true chocoholics crave (that's me). I didn't put any glaze over the cake because it was perfect just like this. However, Nicole Rees suggests a light dusting of powdered sugar or a chocolate glaze (if you want even more chocolate).

Marble Bundt Cake (Baking Unplugged, by Nicole Rees)
    Makes 16 servings

1 cup of milk, room temperature (divided)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, grated (something in the 55-65% range; mine was 59%)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, soft
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Combine the milk and vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa with 1/4 cup of the milk until smooth. Stir in the grated chocolate. In another bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer), beat the butter, sugar, and salt together until smooth and fluffy (about 2 minutes). One at a time, beat in the eggs. Stir in the flour and remaining milk in 3 additions, starting and ending with the flour. After everything is well incorporated, stir about 1/3 of the batter into the chocolate mixture from earlier until no pale streaks remain. Alternating the white batter with the chocolate batter, place dollops into the Bundt pan until both batters are finished. Rap the pan on the counter to eliminate any air pockets. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer inserted near the center comes out with only moist crumbs still attached. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes then cool completely out of the pan on the rack. Enjoy!

After I get the espresso powder, I'm thinking about adding a little to this recipe along with some ground walnuts to give it a little kick. Stay tuned!

Hope everyone has a Happy New Year's!

Update: I got my espresso powder in today. Yay! Made up another batch of cake mix, except this time, added a few things to make a mocha-walnut marble bundt cake. I added 1 tsp of espresso powder to the initial chocolate mixture and I added 1/2 cup of walnuts, finely ground into the cake batter before taking out the 1/3 to add to the chocolate mix. The espresso powder helped kick up the chocolate flavor and the hint of walnuts running throughout the cake was de-lish! I won't be posting any pics of the new cake because you can't "see" the changes I made, only "taste." And you definitely must taste.

Also, if you like banana cake, try adding 2 cups of fresh pureed bananas to the batter for a different flavor!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Popovers: Part 2

I said yesterday that I would post a variation to the popover recipe I tried out (Popovers). To this recipe, I added 1/4 tsp of coarse ground black pepper and 1/3 cup of shredded sharp Cheddar cheese. Let me just say "Yum!" The black pepper added just a hint of spice (next time I might add 1/2 tsp) and the cheese made the inside warm and moist.

Instead of hand whisking all the ingredients for this round, I did use my stand mixer which made for a much smoother batter. I'm not sure if that helped with the rising of the popovers, but as you can see, these popovers rose much better than the first batch. And using the stand mixer made my life easy.

They were delicious with the 15 bean soup I made for supper. I used them to sop up the juice in my bowl. And I definitely didn't stop at just one!

Another variation to the original recipe that sounds great is adding fresh ground herbs and 3/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. Nicole Rees, author of Baking Unplugged, also suggests adding dry mustard and dill, or serving with fresh berries and and whipped cream in the warmer months or a fruit compote and creme fraiche in the cooler months. I've included a recipe for creme fraiche below.

Creme Fraiche (from the Joy of

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 Tbsp buttermilk

Over low heat, warm the cream to 105 degrees. Remove from the heat and stir in the buttermilk. Transfer to a large bowl and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Every 6 to 8 hours, stir and taste. Within 24 to 36 hours, it should be ready. You'll know it's ready when it is thick and has a slightly nutty, sour flavor. Chill in the refrigerator for several hours before serving. It can keep in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Enjoy!

Up next: Espresso Gingerbread Cutouts. Perfect for the holidays!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Phew! What a day in the kitchen it has been. I started around noon and just finished (5:00 over here in LA). Of course, the soup for supper is still simmering on the stove. My kitchen is smelling absolutely fabulous right now! I started with some red velvet cookies that I found on courtesy of Pinterest. Then I rolled my fake-out Chili's southwestern egg rolls, again thanks to Pinterest, that I'll be bringing to my family's Christmas get-together. Started the soup then got going on today's recipe.

For my first official baking adventure, I chose to make popovers. Until this week, I had never eaten a popover, much less heard of one (yes, I did google popovers). So I decided to try them out. There weren't too many ingredients to work with, which is always a plus. The results: not too bad. The middle sunk in a little bit when I pulled them out the oven, but wait until tomorrow when I post my variation on the popovers (I added black pepper and cheddar cheese to make them a little more savory). Those definitely didn't sink. I enjoyed the flavor - not too much excitement but a little step up from an ordinary dinner roll.

So, here's the recipe:

Popovers (courtesy of Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees)
    Makes 12 popovers

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted (you'll also need a little more to grease the muffin tins)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 12-cup muffin tin with melted butter. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Then add the eggs and melted butter. Mix until the mixture is smooth and lump free. You might have to add some of the milk to make the mixing easier. Whisk in the remaining milk. Evenly distribute the batter amongst the muffin cups. Bake for 15 minutes at 450 degrees then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or until the tops are crisp and golden. Do not open the oven door until ALL the baking is done. Transfer the popovers to a wire rack to cool. Puncture the bottoms with a sharp knife to let the steam escape. This will help keep them crisp. Serve immediately.

I'm not great at food styling just yet so I had my wonderful friend, Jenna, help me out when she "popped over" to visit!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Here!

OMG! Yesterday I received the cookbook I had ordered: Baking Unplugged, by Nicole Rees. I spent the afternoon and entire night (no, I did not neglect my job) devouring the book, making notes of what I absolutely needed to buy and the things I just wanted to buy to give myself a better kitchen, and notes of what variations I would like to try on some of the recipes. I only got about 1/2 way through but my stomach was rumbling at the thoughts of what was to come :)

Although I originally planned to start after the New Year, I do believe that I am going to try the popover recipe (making it a savory one) tomorrow to serve with whatever I decide to cook for supper. I have a full day planned in the kitchen already because I am making some red velvet cookies for my 16 year old cousin who loves to be in the kitchen and I'm prepping my Southwestern Egg Rolls (a la Chili's) so I can slip them into the oven Christmas morning for a quick bake before running out the door to make it to the family Christmas celebration.

So excited to start baking tomorrow!

Monday, December 19, 2011

And I'm Off.....

I've never blogged before so please excuse me while I fumble my way around in the dark. However, the past few weeks I've become addicted to food blogs. With each passing day, I realized that I could do this too....if only I was more computer literate. I've decided to start off easy. I ordered a baking cookbook (Baking Unplugged, by Nicole Rees) and when that comes in, I'll take a recipe each week and try it out. Of course, if I find other recipes along the way, then I'll most certainly interject those too. No sense in letting a good recipe go unnoticed.

I'll be upfront and honest: I'm not a professional baker/chef/etc. I grew up with a mom who loved to be in the kitchen trying out new things. She was absolutely amazing! She would open up the refrigerator door, pull out multiple random items, and put together a fabulous meal. She's the reason I love to be in the kitchen as well. I would love to open a bakery/cafe with her. That's my dream in life (unfortunately, I wasn't born with a golden spoon in my mouth much less in my checking account, so I have to have a real person's job). Meanwhile, I get into my kitchen as much as possible and enjoy the time I have in there.

Outside of my dream world, I'm a registered nurse in a Pediatric ICU. It's a satisfyingly wonderful job. I love my coworkers, the doctors I work with, and my patients. So, although I'm not living my dream, I can't complain about the real world.....much :)